The Voice Summer 2018

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A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT Spring debuts and our schedules increase at a frantic pace as we make more than our fair share of calendar entries in an already jammed-packed spring. Among our many celebrations are those in PTA. As we close out our fiscal year we recognize our volunteers, appreciate our teachers, reward our students, and smile with equal parts elation and relief; we have managed to accomplish all our goals and initiatives. Now is the time to take a well-deserved rest. The reality is, although we are involved in all of those activities, as PTA leaders we are simultaneously juggling the end of one year and the beginning of another. When I was elected as Recording Secretary in 1996, one of the first conversations I had with the president was her invitation to attend what was then Texas PTA’s Summer Leadership Seminar. And it wasn’t merely just handing me the information and making a quick remark about it and moving on. It was encouragement, almost insistence really, to make plans to go. Having been a part of a professional environment where training was highly valued and part of the company culture, I did make the commitment to attend.

the crowds, and small classrooms for an intimate look and feel. I often speak of my first one, sharing stories about the presenters, and what I learned from the content. It was an experience I will never forget. Coupled with the learning was time to bond with fellow executive board members. We shared meals and rooms together as well as stories about our families. There was so much laughter, the kind that bubbles up from somewhere deep inside of you. Today we have moved our venue to a hotel, expanded our workshop selections, and offered an all-access meal pass allowing you to experience the Talk of Texas Lunch and Back the Future Brunch. But what hasn’t changed is Texas PTA making a commitment to equip our leaders. I invite you to carve out time to attend Texas PTA’s LAUNCH July 20-22 in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole. It’s an investment in you, your PTA, and ultimately the reason we all got involved, our children.

Lisa Holbrook Texas PTA President

Hosted at the University of Texas – Austin, workshops were offered across the campus in a variety of settings, large lecture halls that could accommodate



Talk of Texas Drive for 5 Winners


Preparing Today for a Safer Tomorrow


Introducing Eleanor Schoenbrun


Patient Protections against Step Therapy Protocol

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Thank You President Lisa Holbrook

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A Voice for Every Child

Road Trip Rules Popsizzle

A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR I was recently doing some yard work at my house and, as I began to feel the Texas heat, I took a break under one of the trees on my property. I looked up and started to think about its growth. My family and I moved to Austin 12 years ago. I thought to myself, “Wow, this tree has really grown in 12 years, and now I’m enjoying the shade on this very hot day.”

walk across the stage to accept their diploma, PTA was there.

As I thought about 12 years and the growth of the tree, I was reminded that’s exactly how long it takes for a student to begin school and ultimately graduate from high school. In this graduation season and with another school year ending, I am grateful and extremely thankful for the teachers, school administrators, food preparers, custodians, bus drivers, and every single person who keeps our public schools running.

I look forward to seeing you all at LAUNCH this July in Dallas. It will be an incredible time celebrating our successes and ramping up for the 2018-2019 school year. That’s what PTA does – very little down time because we are always preparing for the next student’s 12-year journey. Just remember, you are all incredible!

In those formidable 12 years of learning, just think about how many field trips, scholarships, Reflections programs, teacher appreciation events, books, learning resources, play structures, and hours of giving PTAs in Texas contributed to these students. And everything you did made a difference in the life of a child and contributed to those students’ growth.

And then there’s PTA. Huge heartfelt thanks go to our thousands of volunteers across Texas who give selflessly everyday to make PTA the great association it is. During those twelve years, from the time a student walks onto their elementary campus to the day they

Kyle Ward Texas PTA Executive Director

Bonham Elementary PTA • Houston ISD Council of PTAs

Nolan Creek School PTA • Charter School

Brackenridge High School PTSA • San Antonio ISD Council of PTAs

Pieper Ranch Middle School PTSA • Comal ISD Council of PTAs

Campbell PTA • Katy ISD Council of PTAs

Pinnacle Intermediate PTA • Canyon ISD Council of PTAs

CAST Tech High School PTSA • San Antonio ISD Council of PTAs

Pioneer Crossing Elementary PTA • Manor ISD

Danville Middle School PTSA • Comal ISD Council of PTAs

Reedy High School PTSA • Frisco ISD Council of PTAs

Gabe Allen Elementary PTA • Dallas ISD

Sam Houston Elementary PTA • Marshall City Council of PTAs

Hallsville Intermediate PTA • Hallsville ISD

Sanford PTA • Van Alstyne ISD

Lanny Frasier Middle School PTA • Mesquite ISD Council of PTAs

Selman PTA • Sealy ISD

Laura Steele Montessori Academy PTA • San Antonio ISD Council of PTAs

Talley Elementary PTA • Frisco ISD Council of PTAs

Lawler Middle School PTA • Frisco ISD Councill of PTAs

Thomas Jefferson Elementary PTA • Houston ISD Council of PTAs

Liscano Elementary PTA • Frisco ISD Council of PTAs

Thomas Jefferson Middle School PTA • Port Arthur City Council of PTAs

Maedgen Lions PTA • Lubbock ISD Council of PTAs

Vestal Elementary PTA • Harlandale ISD Council of PTAs

Meadowbrook Elementary PTA • Fort Worth ISD Council of PTAs

Wainwright PTA • Houston ISD Council of PTAs

Memorial High School PTSA • Frisco ISD Council of PTAs

Wheatley School of Early Childhood Programs PTA • Port Arthur City Council of PTAs

SUMMER 2018 • Vol. 111 408 West 11th Austin, TX 78701 • EDITORIAL TEAM Executive Director Kyle Ward, CAE Associate Executive Director Darren Grissom Communications Manager Amy Perry Creative Design Specialist Vanessa Diamos TEXAS PTA BOARD OF DIRECTORS President Lisa Holbrook President-Elect Sheri Doss Secretary LaDorshe Damron Treasurer Lisa Johns Vice President Programs & Resources Sylvia R. Reyna, Ph.D. Vice President Membership Larriann Curtis Vice President Leadership Heather Ashwell-Hair Vice President Field Service Suzi Kennon Directors-at-Large Lee Guerra Choni Hajibashi Fred Henley, J.D. Neil Shelby Lizeth LoCicero Ralph Rodriguez Tim Greenwell

The Voice, the official publication of the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers, is published four times a year in fall, winter, spring, and summer. Call 1-800-TALK-PTA or visit us on the web for more information. Disclaimer: Articles and advertisements in The Voice do not necessarily represent the viewpoints or policies of Texas PTA. Texas PTA does not endorse non-PTA products or services mentioned in this publication. Reprint permission: Unless otherwise noted, PTAs may reproduce and distribute the materials from The Voice without express written permission. Texas PTA materials may not be duplicated by any other organization or person without written permission from the editor.



DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS, SHARING IS CARING One of the most valuable benefits of PTA is that our Leaders are part of a large community where there exists the opportunity to network and share ideas with one another. We know that PTAs across Texas are doing great things and we want to hear about each and every one of them! All Local and Council PTAs are encouraged to share their successes with Texas PTA via our website. All submissions are read, and yours just might end up in a robust library of stories, the Talk of Texas, debuting Summer 2018! So, why participate? ...

Grow as a leader.

Generate new ideas.

Be recognized for your hard work.

Stay motivated.

GET STARTED Visit the Texas PTA homepage and “Share Your Success.” A lot of great ideas are being compiled in the Talk of Texas.

Congratulations to the Texas PTA Drive for 5 President’s Challenge winners, recipients of a $1,000 cash grant from our friends at Chrysler: Cole PTA, Northside Council of PTAs Stewart PTA, Lubbock Council of PTAs Veda Knox PTA, Arlington Council of PTAs Texas PTA President-Elect Sheri Doss presents Stewart PTA with a $1,000 chck for their win (5/21/18).


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Schoenbrun National PTA’s Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year

At my school – Franklin High School in El Paso, Texas, I wanted to create a safe, welcoming area on campus where students could eat lunch and have a fun place to hang out. Despite its plain cement benches, my school’s courtyard had much potential. I reached out to Disney and generationOn for grant money to help realize my goal, and ended up receiving a $1,000 grant! On Family Volunteer Day last year, well over 100 volunteers helped clear the courtyard, paint benches, and plant flowers and shrubs. It was a wonderful experience with the help of Franklin PTSA who guided me through the process. I was humbled to be a part of something greater than myself – beautifying my second home, school! Now there is a welcoming place for students on campus that has a fun atmosphere where everyone can feel welcome. I am humbled to be the 2018 Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year, and grateful to National PTA

for this honor. It was such an enriching experience to travel to their Legislative Conference this year and use my voice to advocate on behalf of my peers to our state legislators. I was in awe of how many wonderful people from across the country were able to come together on a national level, making a difference for their communities. At that moment, I truly saw that PTA really is a voice for every child. Growing up with a mom and a grandmother who are teachers and very active PTA members gave me the perspective of what PTA stands for, who it fights for, and what it means to me: hope for the next generation of students, teachers, and parents.

TOP LEFT: Eleanor Schoenbrun accepts the 2018 Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award from National PTA President-Elect Leslie Boggs (3/13/18).



“Lisa has a ‘bigger than Texas’ mindset when it comes to growing membership and getting others excited about learning new skills to make PTA better. She will be remembered for her enthusiastic, well-delivered speeches from the heart.” Kyle Ward Executive Director Texas PTA


“Lisa has been a great role model for anyone who cares about public education and how important it is to not be a spectator. Her resilience in advocating for our children is second to none and, if PTA supports a piece of legislation, Lisa and those around her will not sit on the sidelines.� Greg Smith Superindendent Clear Creek ISD


A Voice for Every Child Jen Lugo VP Communications Wiley Middle School PTA


hile Wiley PTA President Anna Smith attended the 85th session of the Texas Legislature to advocate for her own children with special needs, she saw an essential ally in Texas PTA for the fight for inclusion. She realized that PTA is more than fundraising and school dances. It could help ensure that all children feel included at school. 23% of the students at Wiley Middle School in Leander ISD are enrolled in the special education program. After Anna spoke with other parents who are advocates for inclusion, it was decided that a solution-based approach was needed at our school. What resulted was the formation of an Inclusion Committee within Wiley PTA. “The Inclusion Committee of the Wiley Middle School PTA provides an exciting venue for parents and the school district to work together; share information and resources; and create an on-going dialogue about issues relating to students with learning differences and disabilities,” said Wiley PTA President Anna Smith. “The committee is not a separate special education entity (SEPTA), but rather a part of the PTA. It will address the needs of a broad range of students, not just those with an IEP, and increase acceptance and inclusion of students with learning differences in our school community.”


The first meeting of the Inclusion Committee was held this past January and has had three meetings since. This committee has a wide range of goals, including: To provide information and support to parents of children with special needs, so that they can help their children maximize their potential; To work as a team with the school to assist in most effectively helping children with special needs; To provide information to all parents and community members about children with special needs, so that they can understand and support all children; To help all children understand and appreciate challenges faced by children with special needs; To work legislatively to secure and retain adequate laws (funding for them) for children with special needs. “Parents of children with special education need to know what services are available to them and exactly how the schools can help their children learn to their fullest potential,” said Tara, a parent at Wiley Middle School. “I don’t feel we had the information we needed back when our kids were in elementary school to help us advocate for them. I’m hoping that this group will help us.” At the most recent meeting, there was a great exchange of ideas and support among all who attended, including Wiley teachers, special education staff, parents, the principal, and an Executive Board member from the PTA Council.

One concern voiced was field trips. Whether because their children are unfamiliar with staff or because their children may feel left out, many parents shared that field trips are not an option for their children, especially if they are unable to help chaperone. Parents at the meeting were able to directly express these concerns. And in turn, teachers and administration were eager to discuss ways to help ease parents’ concerns so they will feel more comfortable sending their children on field trips. Though the Inclusion Committee has only been around for a few months, we have already made many positive changes. A first accomplishment of the committee was making the sixth grade dance a more welcoming and inclusive event. A calming room was created as a place for kids to retreat to, if needed. Parents were excited to find that their child could participate in a school event. “Everyone here is part of this community,” rejoiced Wiley teacher Danielle Gary. Five other area schools have now reached out to Wiley PTA and expressed an interest in forming their own Inclusion Committees. “So many parents feel alone in their journey. And not feeling alone and empowered to help your child is really going to help a lot of people. I’m hoping this starts a movement throughout the PTA,” said Tani, a parent at Wiley Middle School. Upcoming plans for the Wiley PTA Inclusion Committee include welcoming area specialists to lead workshops. Recently, the Wiley PTA Executive Board invited Austin Eye Gym to speak at a meeting on the connection between vision and learning. It was a fascinating talk that brought to light some challenges Wiley students may be facing everyday. These workshops will be a valuable resource for Wiley families to learn more about services available in their own area. The Inclusion Committee also plans to hold an Inclusion Wellness Fair in December to bring together resources for Wiley families to discover in a single afternoon under one roof. The Inclusion Committee of Wiley PTA will strive to continue to learn and grow. With collaborative support from parents, staff, and community members, the possibilities are endless.

“The Inclusion Committee of Wiley Middle School PTA provides an exciting venue for parents and the school district to work together, share information and resources; and create an on-going dialogue about issues relating to students with learning differences and disabilities.

Anna Smith President Wiley Middle School PTA



PREPARING TODAY FOR A SAFER TOMORROW Joe McKenna, PhD Associate Dir. Research & Education Texas School Safety Center


very day schools face challenges that have the potential to impede the learning process for students. These challenges can range from natural disasters to acts of violence or terrorism to more frequent safety issues that educators confront every day. With over 9,000 campuses that serve over 5.1 million students in Texas, it is imperative that school safety continues to be a priority in the educational setting. The Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) at Texas State University was created in 1999 and authorized by the 77th Texas Legislature in 2001 to serve as the central clearinghouse for school safety and security information through training, research, and technical assistance to school districts and community colleges across Texas. The TxSSC, a university-level research center, receives its charge of enhancing school safety through Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code as well as the Governor’s Homeland Security Strategic Plan. The mission of the TxSSC is to serve school and communities to create safe, secure, and healthy environments. To achieve this mission, the TxSSC focuses on equipping schools with the knowledge and skills necessary to prevent-mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover


from any type of emergency that could arise – whether manmade or a natural disaster. Since its inception, the TxSSC has provided all Texas school districts with training and technical assistance based on best practices in an effort to promote safe and healthy learning environments. As part of its effort to promote safe schools, the TxSSC provides training and resources in areas such as multihazard emergency operations planning, multi-hazard training and drilling, safety and security assessments, bullying prevention, and violence prevention in schools. As a result, the TxSSC has become a national leader in school safety and is relied upon for assistance and guidance from jurisdictions throughout the nation. The TxSSC provides best practices in school safety through a variety of platforms to ensure statewide reach and impact. One of these mechanisms is through in-person trainings that are hosted in various education service center regions throughout Texas. Online training delivered by the TxSSC provides another means for schools to learn about best practices in school safety. In addition to in-person and online training, TxSSC has developed a variety of toolkits available through its website, accompanied with resources and job aids for schools. Finally, the TxSSC is available to provide technical support, upon request, to school districts needing direct assistance with their own school safety programs. All of these services are provided at no-cost to school districts.

Further, the TxSSC hosts the statewide Texas School Safety Conference, which brings together educators, administrators, schoolbased law enforcement, and school safety professionals to learn about the latest best practices in school safety and promote the importance of collaboration toward the aim of achieving a comprehensive school safety program. The safety of students at school requires collaboration not just between administrators, educators, and first responders, but also parents. In light of various threats, hazards, and vulnerabilities that schools face, parents naturally want to be reassured that their children are safe and secure when in the care of school. Unfortunately for many parents, not knowing what to ask or how to get involved can be a barrier to getting reassurance or engaging in an active and supportive role. TxSSC, in collaboration with Texas PTA, has compiled a list of basic questions parents can ask to determine if their child’s school takes a proactive approach to school safety, such as knowing if the district has an emergency operations plan or what types of notification procedures are in place to notify parents in an emergency situation. Further, this resource informs parents how they can get involved in supporting school safety. These guidance questions can be accessed at https://tinyurl. com/txssc-questions. To learn more about TxSSC and their resources, visit www.txssc. or follow their social channels.


PATIENT PROTECTIONS against Step Therapy Protocol

sponsored by

Amy Prentice State Government Relations Manager National Psoriasis Foundation Simone Nichols-Segers Senior Manager for Advocacy National Multiple Sclerosis Society



tep therapy protocols, also known as “fail first” requirements, are used by insurance companies to review the use of prescription drugs and control costs. Patients may be required to try, then fail on lower-cost or older drugs selected by their insurance company before coverage is granted for the drug prescribed by the patient’s health care provider. This is especially problematic for patients living with chronic or progressive diseases, as prolonging ineffective treatment (and delaying access to the right treatment) may result in increased disease activity, loss of function and possible irreversible progression of disability. Currently, plans can require a stable patient to switch medications to try a lower cost drug, or require patients to try and fail the same drug twice. There are no limits on how many steps a patient must go through before being granted access to the drug that is prescribed by their physician or how long they must try the required drug before coverage is granted for the prescription that is best for them. The National MS Society, National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), and a coalition of over 35 local, state, and national organizations successfully passed significant step therapy reform in 2017. SB 680 by Senator Kelly Hancock and Representative Greg Bonnen will impact health plans in January. It is one of the strongest bills of its kind passed nationwide to date. The bill was introduced in February of 2017 during the 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature. It passed out of both the Senate Business and Commerce Committee and House Insurance Committee with unanimous support and received unanimous support on the Senate floor and near-unanimous support on the House floor prior to being signed by the Texas governor in May 2017. NPF State Government Relations Manager Amy Prentice said, “The hard work and diligence of our providers and patient advocates living in Texas made this success possible. They worked tirelessly to keep legislators aware of the harmful impacts of step therapy and actively participated in bill developments every step of the way. Their efforts to address such a critical need have been truly inspiring.

SB 680 works to improve three critical aspects of step therapy protocols. First, it creates a transparent process around the development of step therapy protocols and ensures they are based on sound clinical practice guidelines. The second and central piece of this legislation implements an exception process that gives patients and doctors access to a clear and convenient process to request a step therapy exception when it is medically necessary. Next, it requires health insurers to respond quickly to these exception requests: 72 hours and, in urgent instances, 24 hours. Finally, if the exception request is denied, patients will have access to an expedited appeal with an independent review organization. The National Psoriasis Foundation and National Multiple Sclerosis Society recently hosted a webinar that covered an in-depth discussion about these new protections. How to Utilize the New Protection and Tell If It Applies to You Individuals with state-regulated plans will benefit from step therapy reform. To tell if this protection applies to Texas patients, look at your insurance card: If you see DOI or TDI in the bottom left corner of the front of your card, you have a state-regulated insurance plan and can benefit from the new law. To submit a step therapy exception request, health care providers should submit the Texas Standard Prior Authorization Request Form for Prescription Drug Benefits. Should the exception be denied, health care providers can submit a request for an expedited appeal by an Independent Review Organization using the Request for a Review by an Independent Review Organization form via the Texas Department of Insurance website (www.tdi. With the passage of this bill, Texas joins 16 other states, including Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and New York, in reducing the burdens imposed by step therapy and facilitating the patient’s ability to get on the appropriate treatment prescribed by their health care provider in a timely manner. The adoption of this law in Texas is an important milestone for patients in the state as well as nationwide efforts to ensure patients have increased access to appropriate treatments. Learn more about step therapy advocacy efforts online at


Karen Burnell Healthy Lifestyles Liasion Texas PTA The thought of taking a road trip with kids sometimes makes our heads spin. The clothes, the toiletries, the bickering … and the snacks?! Yes, snacks are a very important part of our road trips, but the so-called convenient options we have today aren’t always the healthiest. I’ve spent countless late night hours preparing healthy snacks for my family. Hopefully a few of these tips will help ease your road trip snack woes.

Pre-Portioned Snacks Those cute little bags of 100 calorie snacks seem like a good choice to throw in your bag, but they are typically filled with ingredients no one can pronounce and they really don’t have a lot of nutrition. Instead of seven or eight sad bites of flavorless cookies, opt for filling snack bags with more nutritious items like nuts and dried fruit (hint: throw in a little chocolate for fun), popcorn, lower-sugar cereals, or unsalted pretzels. I’m sure those little fish crackers may sneak into one bag, but try snacks with fewer ingredients for all the other baggies you create.


Fresh Snacks Fresh is the best when you can. But you have to consider the mess factor, too. No watermelon for me! So, find a fabric cooler that you can shove in between seats to pack mess-free fresh snacks like grapes, apple slices, berries, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cheese sticks, and hardboiled eggs; the list goes on and on. And don’t forget the water bottles! Or better yet, pack a refillable water bottle (most restaurants will let you fill them up with ice and water for FREE when you stop for lunch or gas). With some heavy-duty ice packs, you can keep these snacks cool on even the longest road trips across the Lone Star State.

Homemade Snacks Peanut butter energy balls, oatmeal raisin cookie bites, blueberry quinoa bars, spinach balls, ovenroasted chickpeas — do a quick search online for any of these two or three-ingredient snacks and tons of healthy recipes will pop up. I have tried them all and they’re fan favorites. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also struck out on many others. I suggest trying them out on the kids before the BIG trip, so you don’t have a BIG flop in the car.

Time-Crunched Snacks We don’t have time to make homemade energy balls every time we jump in the car. So, look for snacks that have fewer ingredients, higher protein and fiber, and lower sugar and sodium (like, 3-5 grams of fiber, <10 grams of sugar, and <150 calories per serving). Sadly, those cracker sticks with chocolate hazelnut spread have way more sugar than you think. But there are quite a few options that fit this criteria. Without naming names, you can look for woven-square crackers, wheat crackers, hummus and pretzel cups, fruit strips or bars, and the ever-popular granola bars.

I hope you find a few of these tips helpful for your next trip. And don’t forget to have the kids put those tablets down from time to time and look for shapes in clouds, play the license plate game, or simply see who can belt out their favorite songs in a funny voice. What ever happened to car bingo? Wishing everyone happy and healthy road trips this summer!






1 ripe banana

1/2 cup almond milk

12 strawberries

3 tbsp. salted caramel sauce

1/2 cup pineapple or orange juice

crushed pretzels

Blend banana, strawberries, and juice until combined

Combine milk and caramel sauce, mix gently

Fill popsicle molds 3/4 full, freeze

Fill popsicle mold 3/4 full, freeze Drizzle on caramel sauce and sprinkle with pretzels






12 oz. lemon-lime soda

5 cups chopped cherries

5 oz. bag sour gummy candy

2 tsp. Sriracha 16 oz. dark chocolate 4 tsp. coconut oil

Fill popsicle molds with soda 3/4 full

Blend cherries and Sriracha

Drop in gummy candy, fill to desired amount

Fill popsicle molds 3/4 full, freeze

Freeze and enjoy!

Mix chocolate and oil together over low heat, let cool Dip popsicles, allow to harden, chill in freezer


SUMMER 2018 • Vol. 111 408 West 11th Austin, TX 78701 1-800-TALK-PTA Texas PTA texasPTA txstatepta texas_pta